The ANF (Vic Branch) was formed around 1972 when the Royal Victorian College of Nursing and the Royal Victorian College of Nursing, Employees Section amalgamated. Initially operating under the title of Royal Australian Nursing Federation (Victorian Branch), the Royal was dropped in 1988.
Over the past decade there have been many changes to our professional practice and work environment. In particular, since 2004 a growing number of midwives have been educated through direct-entry midwifery courses resulting in them not having a nursing qualification. The result of this is that those midwives cannot be called a nurse, cannot be registered as a nurse and do not carry out nursing roles.
Nationally and internationally midwifery now is and is seen as a separate profession to nursing.
The establishment of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) has created a national regulatory body and nursing and midwifery are now considered separate professions and have separate national registers. The national nursing and midwifery accreditation body, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council, also includes midwifery in its title.
Although many midwives are also nurses and hold dual registration, midwives have been able to register in their own right since 2010.
The union's name should reflect who we are and who we represent - that is how members identify with their union. The current ANF (Vic Branch) title acknowledges all those members who carry out nursing work, whether in mental health nursing, emergency nursing, community nursing or school nursing. The title nursing includes the work done by personal care workers or assistants in nursing employed in private aged care. However, our title does not acknowledge midwives who have never been a nurse.
Resolutions to change the ANF's name to include midwifery have been voted down at the 2006 and 2010 delegates conferences. Last month's conference revealed a significant change in views with agreement amongst the vast majority of delegates that it was time to change our name to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Vic Branch).
ANF (Vic Branch) cannot make a decision to change its name on its own as it is not a state-registered union and exists as part of the national Australian Nursing Federation federal body. The July Branch Council meeting, having heard the Delegates Conference name debate and seen the level of support for change, resolved to ask the Federal ANF Council to consider and support the inclusion of midwifery in the Federation's name when it meets in August.
Importantly ANF branches which legally exist in their own right such as the South Australian ANF branch have already legally changed their name to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch). Queensland and New South Wales branches are also considering the name change issue.
The addition of midwifery into the ANF name will acknowledge the separation of the profession and our many midwife members. Whilst acknowledging what we are called is important, it is the union's role in improving wages, workloads and conditions, the service we provide to members and our advocacy for improved health services that matters most to members and the community.